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Long lines, wait times persist at DMV offices

Posted: 3:40 PM, Oct 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-15 21:40:37Z

Ada and Canyon County residents are expressing frustration over long lines and wait times that are often exceeding four hours at DMV offices. Many have called or e-mailed our newsroom wondering what is causing the often-excruciatingly long delays.

In August, the Idaho Transportation Department announced that its computer system for issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards was being upgraded from a 1980s mainframe to a more modern system. But the transaction did not go smoothly. In only a few weeks, officials and the public saw eleven intermittent outages in the system. But ITD technicians  worked closely with the computer system vendor and were able to eventually resolve the issues and return the system to normal operation.

But the long lines and wait times that those renewing their driver’s licenses are currently experiencing are not related to any computer system glitches.

“Our system is running smoothly. In fact, we’re very pleased with the way the system is performing,” said ITD spokesperson Jennifer Gonzalez.

However, Gonzales pointed out the delays are being caused by a customer backlog. “You’ll recall our computers were down for awhile in August” she pointed out. “Plus, when we have holidays -- like we had last Monday, Oct. 8th, it creates additional backlogs.”

She said DMV offices normally handles about 1,700 to 1,800 customers transactions per day. “On Tuesday, Oct. 9th –- following the Columbus Day holiday –- we handled some 2,100 transactions,” she said.

“I got turned away at a DMV office, because they told me they had a four-hour backlog,” one viewer exclaimed. “It’s ridiculous!”

More densely populated counties like Ada and Canyon are seeing longer backlogs, Gonzalez said, due to the number of residents coming into the DMV offices. Some people are going to adjacent counties -– creating an additional backlog for DMV offices there.

“It appears that a lot of customers are pulling up and seeing the parking lot packed and thinking they are in for a long wait, so they are going to a neighboring county to get their vehicle titles and registrations,” said Canyon County Assessor Brian    Stender.  “It’s a little frustrating for me and my staff, so I just want everyone to know that we are still able to help them here in Canyon County in a timely fashion.”

Stender admitted recent issues that caused extended wait times and long lines at the driver’s license office have only had small impacts on the motor vehicle side of the DMV offices. Wait times for vehicle titles and registrations rarely exceeds fifteen minutes, officials said, even during their busiest times.

Given the glitches from easier this year, the State is still offering a grace period for those whose licenses expired in July, August or September. “We are still giving them until October 31st to renew their license,” Gonzalez pointed out.

Gonzalez recommends drivers can schedule an appointment on line, but many offices are not scheduling appointments until November.

“Those whose license have expired prior to July, should come into a DMV office in person,” Gonzalez said.

Vehicle registrations can also be renewed online if a customer has a copy of their renewal notice. Instructions on how to renew online can be found on the Idaho Transportation Department’s website, itd.idaho.gov.